Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reportedly enhanced the chances of the BJP coming to power in Karnataka this year after he craftly converted the one-time foe – Janata Dal chief and former prime minister Deve Gowda, into a friend virtually overnight.

At the time that Modi went to meet Gowda, most of the opinion polls were giving the Congress an edge for the forthcoming Karnataka assembly elections. Till that time, the former prime minister and JDS leader had issued warnings that he would disown even his son HD Kumaraswamy if he struck a post poll alliance with the BJP.

It was being said that the Janata Dal-Secular would become the king maker because the state was heading towards a hung assembly. It might be recalled that the JDS has had bitter experiences with both the BJP and the Congress during a power sharing agreement with both on earlier occasions in the state.

Despite the assertations by Gowda Senior that there is no softening of stand against the BJP, many believe the contrary. It is reported the Gowda has suddenly grown fond of Modi – being able to find merit in the prime minister, like never before.

And that has reportedly left Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah sulking at JDS being wooed away by Modi. Modi’s guile and chicanery has left yet another tall leader all high and dry.

Many are legitimizing the guile of Modi because they believe that politics is a game of strategists. And especially for a state like Karnataka where there is no surety of what the outcome of the elections would be.

There are also rumours in the political circles of the state that the tables may well have been turned on the Congress by the string of blistering elections rallies by Modi and the ‘secret’ pact with the JD-S.

If reports are to be believed, Gowda was remined by Modi about the manner in which the octogenarian politician had been dissuaded by Modi from resigning his Lok Sabha seat to keep his pledge of doing so if the BJP were to be voted to power in 2014. In reciprocation, Gowda also recalled how he had been personally escorted by Modi from his car to inside of the Prime Minister’s home every time he had called on the prime minister.

In stark contrast to the apparent bonhomie between these two leaders, the JDS has been mocked as the ‘B’ team of the BJP by Rahul Gandhi. There have been several occasions when Rahul has taken a dig at Gowda and Kumaraswamy.

The reaching out to Gowda by Modi also serves another purpose. He is effectively also reaching out to the Vokkaliga community which is a peasant caste with the significant population in the state. It is also the core vote bank of the JDS. Gowda himself is a Vokkaliga.

The Congress apparently is already ahead in the race to the caste vote bank in Karnataka, having granted religious minority status to Lingayats – a community that has traditionally been close to the BJP.

(Adapted from